JOSHU’S DWELLING 鐵笛倒吹 七十

 

If a poor man offers you
the finest diamond
do you take it, and what
of the gift of a crust of bread
from the wealthy man.
Each gift, in its way,
is worthy of rejection.

Once I grasped at great thoughts –
now I can forget my own name
and wonder whose face it is
that I see in the mirror.


A reflection on Case 70 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui).

DROP IT

It is a burden he does
not want to bear any longer,
one he would shed in a moment,
but there is no place to put it
and you cannot just leave it anywhere.
And so he continues to bear it
dragging it here, carrying it there,
always attached to it, and it to him.
He knows there are others
who bear far heavier burdens,
some with a smile, others begrudgingly.
He would gladly take up
their burdens, if he could only
be relieved of his, but he
cannot find anyone to take his,
and so he smiles and goes on,
for everyone wants something
and he has only nothing to offer
although that is the greatest gift,
for it is the gift of Buddha.


A reflection on Shūmon kattōshū Case 6 – Zhaozhou’s “Drop It”